PAYAL IS LOST (PAYAL KHO GAYI)
By Maheen Mirza and Shivani Taneja. Illustrations by Kanak Shashi
Eklavya and Muskaan, Bhopal, 2019, pp. 20, R75.00
The book, which is also available in Hindi, primarily targets those who are beginning to read. As the name suggests, the conflict in this story revolves around a group of friends looking for their lost friend, Payal. The nature of the plot/conflict of this story makes it an ideal read for the target audiences. Whilst being simple, the topic is intriguing enough for a child to read until the end of the book.
Another important aspect of the book is the illustrations included in it, which do possess an element of abstraction along with being evocative. The illustrations create a vague image of the written story, the details of which are more or less dependent on the reader’s imagination. As a result of this, the reader exercises his/her imagination, which is a commendable quality of the book, keeping in mind, the target audience of those learning to read. In other words, it allows visual learners or appeals to the visual sense of the readers, allowing them to sharpen their reading and comprehension skills. In this way, it is largely capable of fulfilling the purpose it is likely to be bought for.
The usage of Indian names and words such as ‘Mama’ and ‘Chacha’ appeal to the Indian audiences. A simple and sweet conclusion is likely to appeal to children, making it an ideal read for those willing to learn to read.
GUTHLI HAS WINGS
By Kanak Shashi
Tulika Books, Chennai, 2019, pp. 24, R165.00
Guthli has Wings is an interesting depiction of a rather sensitive yet immensely significant issue in today’s world gender identity. The book does a commendable job with conveying the gravity of the issue being addressed through a simple plot, which spans over 20 pages.
The book targets young readers (above the age of 6). It makes a sincere effort to introduce the idea of gender identity and freedom of choosing one’s gender to the readers. The book includes various evocative illustrations, most of which depict Guthli, which allow the young readers to keep track of the plot and visually connect with it.
The story progresses as Guthli refuses to acknowledge her mother’s assertion of her being a boy. Another interesting observation is that Guthli is presented as a normal girl as the pronoun ‘she’ is used while referring to her until her mother calls him ‘son’. The story is based on a fundamental distinction between sex and gender, and effectively conveys the significant role played by the idea of choice in establishing the concept of gender, which is independent of biological features. The depth in which the issue is explained is, in my opinion, ideal for the targeted age range.
The structure of the story is smooth and effectively communicates the plot and other literary details. Character and conflict introduction are well-nuanced and increase the overall appeal and quality of the text. As a result of these factors, the book is a good option to consider when advancing the level of reading in beginner readers. The price, however, could be considered high for a children’s book.
THE ADVENTURES OF BIPLOB THE BUMBLEBEE VOLUME 1
By Abhishek Talwar
Puffin Books, 2019, pp. 33 , R199.00
The book encompasses three separate stories pertinent to the same protagonist: Biplob the Bumblebee. Targeting children aiming at building their level of reading, the book does a commendable job in introducing various scientific phenomena such as rainwater harvesting and pollination, while allowing the young readers to build their reading skill by reading various complex sentences. The structure is such that it allows a smooth advancement in the reading skill, which is a rather significant advantage of the book.
The illustrations by Sonal Goyal provide great assistance to the young readers to visually connect to the plot and understand the broad concepts being introduced. The illustrations simplify the concepts introduced and range from scenic depictions to flowcharts, serving a wide variety of purposes.
The book combines scientific phenomenon and fictional plots in a commendable way. The relatively high price is unlikely to dissuade consumers from buying up this product. Moreover, it should also be considered that the length of the book and the utility of the book are both more than various other books that fall under similar genres and categories.
The book introduces certain words that would be complex for the targeted reader group, allowing them to fulfill their purpose of boosting their reading skill. Apart from this, the character of Biplob is established as a kind and humble creature through all three stories. The reader’s attachment to the protagonist continues to develop through the various challenges faced by Biplob.
All in all, the book is recommended to young readers as it allows them to boost their reading skill while learning about new ideas.
WHILE THE MEN WENT HUNTING, WHAT DID THE WOMEN DO? WHILE THE WOMEN WENT HUNTING, WHAT DID THE MEN DO?
Both by CN Subramanyam. Illustrations by Pragnya Shankaran / Kanak Shashi
Eklavya, 2019 & 2018, pp.18 each, R40.00 & R30.00
Challenging the common notion of hunting being the work of men, the book by CN Subramaniam combines pictures with possible interpretations of the same. The book mostly shares the author’s experience of exploring sculptures in various locations, which include Chhattisgarh’s famous Bhromadev temple and Vijaynagara in Karnataka.
The book adopts an informative tone, wherein the author describes his experience of exploring sculptures in various locations across the country. Pictures are used extensively throughout the book, showing interesting sculptures explored by the author. Most of the text, either introduces the reader to the book or accompanies the photographs with possible interpretations or general information about them.
The companion volume,When the Women went Hunting, What Did the Men Do? is an exploration of what women in the Stone Age did based on rock paintings.
The books aim at young students developing an interest in history or humanities, on a broader note. The formatting of both the books, too, is commendable. Pictures are well aligned to the information, and the reader is comfortably able to refer the information, while closely observing the pictures. The relatively large size of the pictures allows the reader to make close observations.
Sudhir Chowdhry, a student of Class 11 at the Doon School, is currently pursuing the IBDP curriculum, and interested in the sciences and economics. He actively participates in extra-curricular activities like debating and dramatics. Due to his keen interest in dramatics, he has been able to nurture his skill in appreciating literature in various ways. He takes part in various voluntary activities, including those related to community service.